NYAPRS Note: The following comes from our friends at APSE, the national organization with an exclusive focus on integrated employment and career advancement opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
WIPA & PABSS Programs in Danger of Being Eliminated
Contact Your Members of Congress Today!
The Work Incentive Planning and Assistance (WIPA) and Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) programs, funded by the Social Security Administration, provide vital information to individuals with disabilities regarding their public benefits, along with advocacy and information that allow them to go to work and increase their self-sufficiency. Without these programs, many people will have no place to turn for benefits counseling and employment advocacy services.
The Congressional authorization for the WIPA (formerly known as Benefits Planning Assistance and Outreach – BPAO) and PABSS programs has expired, and unless Congress acts immediately, these programs will no longer exist. Many WIPA and PABSS programs will disappear at the end of this coming June, and all of these crucial programs will be gone by the end of September 2012 if Congress does not act. The benefits counseling and employment information and advocacy infrastructure that has been built over the past decade has become a critical component in assisting individuals to become part of the general workforce, and it must be preserved.
National and state advocacy groups are asking you to do two things:
Phone or fax your members of Congress (House and Senate) and ask them to either:
a) support the introduction and passage of the Social Security Work Incentives Amendment of 2012 that would re-authorize the WIPA and PABSS programs for the next 5 years;
b) support a 2-year extension through September 2013 of these programs under the current structure
Contact information for members of Congress can be found at:http://congress.org/congressorg/directory/congdir.tt
Share this Action Alert with any and all other individuals and organizations in your network, and urge them to contact their representatives on Capitol Hill, and to also spread the word.
Talking points for members of Congress:
-I am contacting to ask you to support the re-authorization of the Work Incentive Planning and Assistance programs and Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security programs. These programs were authorized by Congress as part of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1998. The authorization for these programs has expired and without Congressional action, the programs will disappear.
-The WIPA and PABSS programs provide a vital service that assists individuals with disabilities to go to work, and achieve self-sufficiency and financial independence.
-The WIPA program is an effective investment of tax dollars. Research and evaluation of the program has shown that it clearly reduces reliance on public benefit programs and turns people with disabilities into taxpayers.
-The cost of the WIPA program is approximately $375 per individual served. The cost of the program is more than offset by extensive long-term savings in Social Security funds.
-If the WIPA and PABSS programs are eliminated, over a decade of infrastructure development will disappear and people with disabilities will have no alterative for this type of service.
-I am asking you to take one of the following actions:
a) Support the introduction and passage of the Social Work Incentive Amendments of 2012, that would reauthorize the WIPA and PABSS program for five-years.
b) Support the passage of a 2-year extension of the WIPA and PABSS programs through September 2013, maintaining the existing infrastructure while Congress considers a longer-term reauthorization that makes changes to increase the programs’ effectiveness.
*If you have personal stories to tell about how a WIPA/BPAO or PABSS program has assisted an individual in going to work, please share those.
IMPORTANT: Please send copies of any written correspondence that you send to members of Congress, to the legislative staff for the respective committees that are responsible for this legislation:
House Committee on Ways and Means – Subcommittee on Social Security
Kim Hildreth, Staff Director – Kim.Hildreth@mail.house.gov
Amy Shuart, Professional Staff – Amy.Shuart@mail.house.gov
Senate Finance Committee – Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions, and Family Policy
Alan Cohen, Chief Social Security Counsel
Jeff Wrase, Chief Social Security Counsel